Legislature intervenes in $14M Port-YTK dispute in Supreme Court

Guam port (PNC file photo)

The legislature is challenging the judiciary’s recent ruling on its sovereign immunity.

Guam – The Guam Legislature’s legal counsel is now intervening in a highly contentious case between the Port Authority of Guam and YTK Corporation.

Today, the legislature’s legal counsel, Atty. Julian Aguon, filed an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court of Guam, challenging the court’s decision on sovereign immunity relative to the Legislature that involves the the Port-YTK contract.

It stems from a 45-year lease agreement signed by the Port and YTK back in 2001 for a fisheries contract. The legislature deemed the contract invalid since it violated a law that prohibits lease agreements of more than 5 years.

YTK challenged that law and after a lengthy legal battle, eventually won its case through an arbitration panel that awarded YTK $14 million. That award was then upheld by Superior Court Judge Anita Sukola who also denied reconsideration of her decision.

The Port Authority is now appealing Judge Sukola’s decision in the Supreme Court in an effort to prevent YTK from raiding its coffers of the $14 million for a fisheries contract that never took off.

And now with the legislature’s involvement in the case, lawmakers are also challenging the court’s ruling on its ability to to decide on its sovereign immunity. 

In addition, Sen. Frank Aguon Jr. introduced a resolution that the legislature has passed to support the legislature’s amicus curiae brief filed with the Supreme Court.

“If the Superior Court’s Judgement confirming the amended arbitration award were upheld on appeal, the impact would be more far-reaching. As it stands, the Superior Court’s judgement threatens to dominate the authority of the Guam Legislature by significantly diminishing the legislature’s exclusive authority ‘to limit or enlarge the scope of any waiver of sovereign immunity of the government of Guam, or to waive it at all.’ This has the potential to kick the door wide open for the government to be sued by anyone,” Senator Aguon said.